[Edited to correct penalty provision of bill]
Do you think that abortion is “vital to the equality and liberty of all individuals”? The sponsors of SB 181-FN think so, and they’ll be in front of the New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee this week to make their case. The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, January 31, at 2 p.m. in room 100 on the first floor of the State House in Concord.
Let the committee hear from you
You can register your opinion on the bill online anytime before the hearing by using the state senate’s remote sign-in sheet. The Senate provides a sheet of directions for the remote sign-in process. For anyone planning to attend the hearing in person, the Senate guidelines for testifying at a public hearing are useful. If the hearing runs long, as is often the case on life-issue bills, signing in online and submitting written testimony are good ways to let the committee know where you stand, even of you can’t stay at the hearing until its end.
What the bill says
SB 181-FN, the so-called “Access to abortion care” bill, states “it shall be the public policy of New Hampshire that, because it is vital to the equality and liberty of all individuals, the state shall not restrict or interfere with an individual’s exercise of their private decision to terminate a pregnancy,” except as provided in the Fetal Life Protection Act and the law regarding parental notification for minors seeking abortion. An individual “injured” as a result of violation of “access to abortion care” would be able to get an injunction and to be awarded costs and legal fees.
The sponsors of SB 181 include all ten Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Rebecca Perkins Kwoka (D-Portsmouth). There are five House co-sponsors.
What the bill means
If access to abortion becomes New Hampshire policy “because it is vital to the equality and liberty of all individuals,” say goodbye to any effort to prevent public funds from being used directly for abortion. Conscience protections for health care personnel, already rejected repeatedly by legislators, would be further away than ever. So would informed consent legislation. If FLPA is repealed – as every sponsor of SB 181 would be pleased to see – then SB 181’s FLPA exception would be moot, and abortion in New Hampshire would once again be legal throughout pregnancy.
There will be a constitutional amendment introduced this session that would achieve everything SB 181 seeks. This bill would serve as a fallback if the constitutional amendment were to fail; SB 181 can be passed with a simple legislative majority while a constitutional change would require a three-fifths majority.
Bottom line: go online and sign in OPPOSED to SB 181-FN. If your district’s senator is on the Judiciary Committee, let that senator know where you stand. Committee members are Sharon Carson (chair; R-Londonderry), Bill Gannon (vice-chair; R-Sandown), Daryl Abbas (R-Salem), Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst), and Rebecca Whitley (D-Hopkinton).